There are many different views of nursing. Some people view nurses as angels that step in to save the day. They see nurses as women who are calm, peaceful, and elegant. Others may see nurses as rock stars who are confident and professional among the chaos. Are nurses angels or rock stars?
The intent of this paper is to explain how my personal experiences contribute to my definition of nursing, explain why nursing is unique in the healthcare industry, evaluate the concept of caring in nursing, define the nursing profession through the American Nurses Association, identify nursing theorists that I relate with, provide a plan for how I will use my definition of nursing and experiences that shape it in my practice.
I will also note how I intend on contributing to the nursing profession. When I was younger, I wanted to be a rock star like the eighties hair bands. My family loves music, and I wanted music to be my life. I have always wondered what it would be like to rise above the chaos in an arena. I had dreams of fireworks shooting through the sky as a crowd erupts.
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I wanted to look across a crowd, and I wanted to see the joy on the faces as people dance, throw their hands in the air, or just stand in awe. The chances of anyone becoming a rock star are minuscule, but my chances never existed. I have two sisters. Ashleigh, my oldest sister, is three years older than me, and Kathryn is two years older than me.
By the time I was born my parents were seeing unusual things in Kathryn that they did not see in Ashleigh. Kathryn was behind. My parents thought that maybe Ashleigh was just gifted, and they were not certain if they should be concerned. They waited, but after Kathryn turned two she was still unable to speak. My parents thought she might be deaf, and they began taking her to specialist all over the state. I was born in the chaos of the mystery that caused my family to struggle.
My parents diligently searched for answers, and finally, a physician gave them a diagnosis. Kathryn was diagnosed with autism. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy says a diagnosis of autism is reached if social communication and interaction are impaired and restricted or repetitive behaviors are present. If my parents would have known this prior to my birth, I am positive that I would not be here. The nurse that entered the room following the physician gave my parents horrifying information.
She told my mom that many children with autism never learn to speak, and most women who have a child with a disability this severe end up divorced. She went on to say families with more than one child separate them from the disabled child due to violent tendencies. She concluded by saying the child has a high potential to be institutionalized.
My parents wanted to defy those odds. Two days each week they took Kathryn to therapists in Shreveport, and two weekends each month they went to therapists in New Orleans. They managed this with both working full time jobs, and they received no financial help. They spent money they often did not have, and it was tough financially.
Eventually, they reached the point where they could not sustain their efforts. Kathryn learned to speak after she was seven. The struggles did not stop, but there was a steady hope of improvement. They firmly believe she would not be able to speak today without doing so. Ashleigh and I were forced to grow up quickly. Kathryn does not have good motor skills, and she often gets upset over simple things.
A couple of examples are changes in her routine or pickles being on her hamburger. Normal people can adapt easily to changes, and they are not absurdly upset about an issue with food. Kathryn sees these things as the end of the world. Kathryn repeats herself frequently, and she becomes almost obsessive about certain things like movies or music.
Every day must be perfect for her, and no one is permitted to show anger, fatigue, or sadness. Growing up with this was difficult, and that difficulty will never go away. Despite all the differences and struggles, Kathryn has taught me more than I can express, and those things define who I am. They contribute to my definition of nursing.
She has taught me how to be compassionate to all people, and she has taught me to look past the surface to see who people truly are. I have learned patience, and I have learned how to find peace among the chaos. Kathryn has taught me that kindness and love will always have value. Nursing is my major because I saw how important peace was in the worst parts of my life as well as my family. Nurses are like the rock stars on stages.
They rise above the chaos, they are confident, they can multitask, they are able to adapt, and do not get distracted. I want to see the faces as people dance, throw their hands in the air, or just stand in awe. They may play the same setlist every day, but they must possess the skill to present it to drastically different audiences. Kathryn is not my only personal experience that led me to choose to be a nurse.
A couple of years ago, I was asked to go on a mission trip to Belize with a local church. I was not sure what I was stepping into, but I decided to go. At this point in my life, I was looking at engineering because I wanted to make money, but the things I saw in Belize changed my outlook on life. It rains twice a day in Belize, and it is over 100 degrees year-round. I witnessed people walking barefoot in a place that is constantly wet because they could not afford appropriate shoes.
Their feet were necrotic and literally rotting off. I saw people severely dehydrated. There were mothers caring for sick children, and they did not have any health care. The places that had health care did not include dental. There were few vaccinations, and there was little hygiene. It broke my heart.
When I returned to the United States, I was aware that these people needed health care, but they also needed a miracle. Most of the things I saw were damaged beyond repair, and more are falling into a pit that they will never be able to escape. I am a Christian, and I believe I am called to help those who desperately need it. I want to be an angel and a miracle for people.
I want to be a beacon of hope for people who have none, and I want to provide peace for people who are unaware that such a thing exists. I want to relieve physiological, emotional, and psychological pain. Nurses have the potential to completely change a life without even saying a word. I chose nursing because I am confident that I can provide that level of care.
Nursing is like no other health care profession because of the level of care nurses provide. A nurses’ care for patients is holistic, and holistic care consists of physical, social, emotional, spiritual, psychological, environmental, and occupational factors. These things are critical to the care nurses provide, but nursing is the only health care occupation that includes emotional and spiritual care.
Nurses are the individuals who are supposed to console a mother who is told her child is severely disabled. Nurses are not supposed to look that mother in the face and say there is nothing anyone could do for her or her child.
Nurses should not leave a mother with the thought that she may never hear her child say I love you, and they should recognize the depression in parents who cannot celebrate the best moments in the lives of their children because in the back of their mind they cannot forget even for a moment that they have a child who will never experience those things.
Nurses did not provide adequate emotional and spiritual care for my family when it was desperately needed. Doctors and therapist are not taught holistic care, but nurses should know the toll a child with autism can have on a family. I have struggled with my sister’s disability, but I have not suffered like my parents.
I have watched them fight each other looking for answers. I watched as they sat up late at night with bags in their eyes as they read whatever they could in search for an explanation or something more they could do. Women who are on drugs have healthy children, why not me? What did I do to deserve this?
What happens when I run out of money on treatment? What happens when I am not here to care for her? I have watched them with eyes full of tears at an alter beg God for an explanation or for any help at all. I want to be a nurse because I want to give the care that my family should have received. I want to provide hope. I want to help the children with the disabilities as well as the families of those children.
I never want to see people give up hope. Nurses cannot successfully accomplish their duties without caring for their patients. Caring can be simple like giving a sad child a piece of candy. Caring is not always that easy, and in situations where there is little hope, it can be hard. The best way to care for a patient is to let the patient express positive and negative emotions, and the patient cannot lose hope. Anger, frustration, and sadness can be detrimental if it bottles up.
Patients will reach a breaking point if they cannot express what they are going through. My family would argue and fight with each other because of an elephant in the room that no one wanted to address, and it still happens. Occasionally my mom will come home from a stressful day at work, and she does not get a peaceful break because Kathryn will not allow my mom to be fatigued or stressed.
My mom may yell at anyone in the room, but we all know it has nothing to do with us. The expression is therapeutic on a level that people are not aware of. Caring for someone includes providing hope, or at the least not removing what hope a person has. A person cannot take hope away from someone and still care for them.
Sometimes doing nothing is showing more care. Sometimes a nurse can care for a patient just by standing in the room with a patient that is upset. That shows the nurse will not let the patient suffer alone. A nurse genuinely cares and loves patients when they suffer with that person instead of separating themselves from the patient.
They can empathize while still accomplishing their duties. There are many nursing theorists are have provided critical elements to nursing, but there is a theorist I relate closely with. Florence Nightingale’s theory aligns closely to how I believe. Barba Wall’s analysis of Nightingale highlights her ideas of a calling, cleanliness, and compassion.
These ideas were brought to life by Nightingale, and they are important to my definition of nursing. I do not believe anyone can be a nurse without a calling to the profession. No one willingly does the duties expected of a nurse without a higher purpose. Nurses provide basic care such as brushing teeth and giving baths.
They see people at their worst and most vulnerable times in life. Nurses must also have a genuine love and compassion for all people to provide individual care. They must be able to reach past the surface to provide holistic care. A calling helps nurses be selfless, obedient, flexible, and durable. Cleanliness is taken for granted, and it is important to nursing care. Barbra Wall emphasizes Nightingale’s beliefs on cleanliness.
Walls states, “Her superhuman efforts to improve ward cleanliness and to provide wholesome meals were based on her belief that holistic care was essential to recovery”. Cleanliness is an aspect of holistic care. Unsanitary conditions lead to infection, slow healing, and safety concerns. A nurse can always prove cleanliness, and it might be the only thing a nurse can contribute.
Clean clothes, floor, sheets, and body are basic care. Wall uses Nightingale’s ideas to form her opinions, and she states, “If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if a patient is sick after taking food, if he has a bed sore, it is generally not the fault of the disease, but of the nursing”.
Nurses can promote care in simple ways. Nurses can easily assist a patient who is cold or hungry, and nurses are held responsible if a patient gets a bed sore while in their care because bedsores are easily avoided. Nightingale was known for her compassion. Catalano references Nightingale as the “lady with a lamp,” and he informs, “As Nightingale and her nurses made their night rounds, caring for the wounded in unlit wards, they carried oil lamps to light the way.
For the wounded and suffering, these lamps became signs of caring, comfort, and often the difference in life and death”. The lamp Nightingale carried gave hope to the soldiers. The soldiers knew help was on the way, and they knew someone cared for them. Nightingale sacrificed her nights due to understaffing instead of letting her patients suffer. The lamp is a symbol of caring, hope, and compassion because of Nightingale.
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